When Fran heard about Gateshead Carers, she got in touch with us and registered straight away. She was feeling very isolated in her caring role for her son Stephen (now aged 28) who has Spastic Quadriplegia Cerebral Palsy and is completely dependent upon her.  Her husband died 10 years ago and caring alone for her son round the clock was becoming very hard.

I often feel invisible as a carer and that no one else understands.  When I found Gateshead Carers I was listened to and being able to meet with my Support Worker and sometimes go on carer trips gave me something to really look forward to - Fran explained.

I don’t have anyone to talk to as Stephen can’t speak or communicate or do anything for himself. Paid carers visit our home 3 times a day but only for a total of 1 hour. We have a bit of a chat but it is only for such a short time,” she added.

Stephen attends respite care from 9am -3pm Monday to Friday which does give Fran some time for herself.  “I sleep a lot when he’s not home. It is the only time that I can sleep properly knowing that he is being well cared for and that I don’t need to be alert in case he needs something.”  Fran suffers from clinical depression and finds that she needs this time for sleep.

Her cats, Reggie, Lucky and Dusty are a blessing and she often finds herself chatting to them.

Reggie is a real character. He gets me up in the morning putting his paws on my face on the bed and tries to pull the sheet down!  He also knows the sound of the car when the care workers arrive and pushes his nose in between them when they are helping Stephen. He thinks they visit for him!  I’ve had cats all my life and they are a great comfort to me,” Fran said.

Sometimes I used go out of the house or to visit my daughter, not very often but at least I had the choice if I wanted to.  But now with the lockdown, I can’t go out and my daughter is a key worker too,” she explained.

During lockdown, Gateshead Carers have called me every week to check that I am ok and it has been so nice to hear that somebody cares and is there for me.  They are a great organisation and I am so pleased I got to know them. Thank you! - Fran added.

Some years ago, Fran found a support group that she attended once a week and this was really helpful as she felt there were others in the same position as herself who understood. This group suddenly just stopped and she would love to find another similar group of people out there to join.

If you, like Fran, are feeling isolated in your caring role or belong to a supportive group of those in similar circumstances to Fran, please get in touch with us at Gateshead Carers and together we can help make caring more visible and for carers to feel less isolated.